It is Christmastime, which means it is time for me to make my annual pilgrimage to my favourite 13th-Century-Castle-that-is-also-a-Palaeontological-Museum in lovely Lerici, Italy.
Enter the Cortile dei Dinosauri to meet some friends from the Jurassic and Triassic.
A family of cynodonts relaxes on the sand.
Scutosaurus gives you the once over.
And my small thyreophoran friend Scutellosaurus steps hesitantly behind a sauropod.
The interior of the museum is also quite nice, and features many footprints from the area around Lerici. There's also a pretty nice selection of invertebrate fossils from around the world.
I feel strongly that I need to make this into a t-shirt.
You can read more about the dinosaurs of Italy in the book...the Dinosaurs of Italy, by Cristiano Dal Sasso. It is a very readable book geared to a lay audience and has wonderful information about Ciro, the remarkably well-preserved small theropod Scipionyx, and Antonio, the newly-named hadrosaur Tethyshadros.
Dal Sasso C, Signore M. 1998. Exceptional soft-tissue preservation in a theropod dinosaur from Italy. Nature 392: 383-387.
Dalla Vecchia FM. 2009. Tethyshadros insularis, a new hadrosauroid dinosaur (Ornithischia) from the Upper Cretaceous of Italy. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 29:1100-1116.
And for more information on dinosaur footprints from Lerici, check out:
Nicosia U and Loi M. 2003. Triassic footprints from Lerici (La Spezia, Northern Italy). Ichnos 10:127-140.